We thought we would take the time to post about posture, not only due to the fact that many more of us are working from home, sitting in positions that perhaps we have not been accustomed to for long periods of time, but also due to a recent visit to the chiropractor that I (Shannon) recently had, and thought I would share some words of wisdom due to the experience.
Growing up, you constantly hear how important posture is. “Sit up straight”, and/or “stand tall” are the words that always resonate when we think about the way we should carry ourselves, or how we should sit in a chair. No one ever really listened to that and took it seriously, did they? Well, Gerry and I don’t have bad posture persay, but I think if we all evaluated our posture seriously, we could notice a few things that could use some improvement.
I had recently been experiencing some lower back pain after spending a few days at my parents’ home. Betty White was with me, and due to her arthritis, and their stairs, I was carrying her (all 50 pounds of her) up and down their stairs. By the end of the visit, I felt every bit of those 50 pounds and the care I gave her during that time. When I returned home, I opted for a visit to my chiropractor.
Thankfully, it was nothing serious, a few adjustments did the trick, but my chiropractor also made me aware of the fact that I could improve my posture a bit to help strengthen my core and back.
There are a few things that are contributing to poor posture in today’s society:
Significant Cell Phone Use
Most people nowadays bend or tilt their head down when they look at their phones. This puts even more stress on the spine, especially since smartphones are used for an average of four to five hours per day.
The Use of Laptops in Our Laps
Yes, even now, as I type this blog post, I am using my laptop in my lap with my legs crossed and folded underneath me. I know this is terrible posture, and with this, I am naturally bent in a way that is leaned over my laptop, and not in an “L” shape, which would be better for my spine.
Carrying Heavy Bags
Toting around a heavy bag for long periods of time can put a significant strain on your back. If you’ve been carrying a heavy bag on the same shoulder, the unequal weight from the bag will cause one shoulder to become lower than the other, and lead to poor posture, and pain.
Gaining or having extra weight around your midsection can lead to poor posture. Your body tries to balance the added weight by forcing your pelvis forward and putting more strain on your lower back.
Feeling stressed can cause certain muscles in the body to tighten. When this happens, it gets more difficult for these muscles to support the spine and maintain a vertical position, leading to poor posture.
Of course, injuries of any kind can also cause poor posture and should also be evaluated by a doctor.
We thought we would share a few exercises that have been helpful with back tightness and improving our posture:
Rolling It Out
The foam roller is our best friend. A foam roller is a lightweight foam cylinder that you use to self-administer deep tissue massage. Foam rolling releases muscle knots, and relieves inflammation using your own body weight. We purchased our foam roller per recommendation by our chiropractor a few years ago, and it has been a game changer. You don’t have to spend a lot of money on one. I don’t think there is a day that goes by that we do not lie on the floor and roll our back on the foam roller. It is especially great for the lower back.
Lying Down Arm Roll Stretch
Lying down on your stomach, reach your right arm out to the right directly in line with your shoulder. Place your left hand on the ground under your left shoulder and use it to gently push your body to the right, rolling towards the right arm (while it remains on the ground). You can bend your left knee and place your left foot flat on the ground behind your right knee for stabilization. Hold this stretch for 30 seconds or 5 deep breaths. Feel the stretch in the front of the chest and in the armpit of the right side. Then repeat to the left side.
Lay flat on your stomach and raise your body while supporting your weight on your forearms, elbows, and toes. Hold the pose for 30 seconds and then relax.
Goal Post Squeeze
While sitting or standing, lift your arms up into a goal post position with your elbows bent at a 90 degree angle even with your shoulders. Relax your shoulders down, and then pull the elbows towards the back of the room. Imagine that you’re squeezing a marble in between your shoulder blades as you work the upper back. Release. Repeat 10 times.
Sitting Ab Crunches
Make your abs strong by sitting up straight and pulling your belly button toward your spine—squeeze your abs for ten seconds and then release. Repeat 10 times.
Of course, being mindful of our posture while standing and sitting has been a great strategy as well, and stretching after waking in the morning, or after periods of sitting, or driving also helps.
In a perfect world, it would be great if we could all sit up straight, stand tall, not use laptops in our laps, and not use our cell phones so much, but look, we can monitor those things, limit them as much as possible, and try to do better. We have found that by adding these strategies, and being as mindful as possible most definitely helps us with our wellness, and have better posture. h
We’ve also learned that when we have better posture, we are more centered- not just physically, but spiritually. It creates a oneness that allows for a more balanced feeling, and that is worth putting more effort towards.
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